Tags: Anna Faris, Ben Kingsley, Bobby Lee, Chris Elliott, Chris Parnell, Digital Copy, Garry Shandling, J.B. Smoove, Jason Mantzoukas, John C. Reilly, Larry Charles, Megan Fox, Paramount Home Entertainment, Sacha Baron Cohen, Sayed Badreya, UltraViolet
has an average rating of 6.6 on IMDb
1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
are short but include UNRATED version
– 83 minutes & 98 minutes (UNRATED version)
This uses 39.1GB total.
Street Date: August 21st, 2012
Overall Verdict – Hilarious Recommendation
— Review written by: Justin Sluss —
The Movie Itself was co-wrote by, produced by and stars Sacha Baron Cohen best known for his previous TV series “Da Ali G Show” which aired back in 2000 and again in 2003 – 2004 on HBO as well as obviously his films featuring characters from the show which included “Ali G: Indahouse” from 2002, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan ” from 2006 and “Brüno” from 2009. Just as with his latter two films Larry Charles served as director on this film. Charles is best known for his work as a writer and director on the “Seinfeld” TV series. The film’s screenplay was co-wrote (along with Sacha Baron Cohen) by Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer. These three are best known for writing on the TV shows “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” as well as co-writing and directing the film “EuroTrip” from 2004.
The story here revolves around a North African dictator by the name of “Admiral General Aladeen” (played by Sacha Baron Cohen) who takes pride in oppressing his people in the small republic of Wadiya. He lives an extravagant lifestyle in a huge palace where he’s guarded by a complete army of attractive female “virgin guards”, and pampered by his servants as well as has sex with celebrities. His father died when he was just a young boy and he’s been in power as the supreme leader of the country ever since. The republic of Wadiya sits on one massive amount of oil which he promised his late father he would never sale. Aladeen’s right hand man “Tamir” (played by Ben Kingsley) tries to convince him to sell the oil but is unsuccessful in his attempt. Just like any third world country Wadiya has plans to develop nuclear weapons to essentially destroy Israel. This is what leads to the U.N. (United Nations) becoming suspicious and threatens his nation with an airstrike unless he addresses the U.N. in America. He’s outraged by the idea but he chooses to go along with it. Before he leaves though, a new body double is hired in the case of an assassination attempt — which for Aladeen are quite common. It’s important to remember that this new body double was hired by Tamir who seems to have plans of his own for this visit to America.
The admiral general arrives in America and makes one hell of an entrance so-to-speak by riding down the streets of New York City on the back of a camel while a motorcade of turquoise Lamborghinis follow him along with his female bodyguards. He’s taken to the hotel where he’ll be staying an introduced to an American who will be serving as a backup bodyguard on his visit. This man doesn’t hide his dislike for Aladeen and is honestly quite the racist, even though he’s not sure what race he’s bashing. One night Aladeen is awaken by someone getting him out of bed and taking him prisoner. He’s to be tortured and eventually killed but this doesn’t go as planned. Instead his kidnapper decides to cut off Aladeen’s precious beard and leave him stripped of his pride. He gets away from the kidnapper in nothing more than his underwear but soon makes a deal with a homeless person and acquires some tattered clothing.
After being kidnapped Aladeen immediately heads to where protesters have assembled in front of the U.N. to try to get the attention of Tamir and get back in power. He’s very upset to discover that he’s been replaced by his body double and begins to become very vocal against him. The crowd mistakes this for protest chants, namely this one feminist by the name of “Zoey” (played by Anna Ferris). When things turn ugly at the protest she helps Aladeen, unknowing of who he truly is, and takes him with her back to her health food store in Brooklyn. Aladeen is obviously reluctant to tell her who he really is so he makes up the ridiculous fake name of “Allison Burgers” which she actually believes. She feels sorry for him, as she thinks he’s an exile from Wadiya, and agrees to give him a job at her health food store. At first Aladeen is very against this idea and declines her offer as he makes an attempt to find a way to get back in power. He ends up meeting a man who he had worked with in his nuclear weapons program back in Wadiya by the name of “Nadal” (played by Jason Mantzoukas). Nadal agrees to help him try to plan to get back into to power when it’s announced that the body double posing as Aladeen is going to sign a document making the country a democracy. To get back in power he’s going to have to get back into the hotel where he was staying and he sees the feminist he met earlier has means to do just that, so he accepts the job at her health food store. So that sets up the basic premise to the film. I won’t really go into much more detail though to avoid any “spoilers” and such.
“The Dictator” proves to be just as outrageously offensive and hilarious as you’d expect from a Sacha Baron Cohen character film. At times it feels a tad bit like a Mel Brooks movie except a tad bit more raunchy yet not quite as clever. I love the fact that the film starts out with the sarcastic dedication “In Loving Memory of Kim Jong-il” — former leader of North Korea. It’s obvious that Kim Jong-il, Saddam Hussein and Fidel Castro served as inspirations in ways for this character. There’s some great smaller parts here played by folks like John C. Reilly, Bobby Lee, Fred Armisen, Chris Elliott, Chris Parnell, J.B. Smoove and Garry Shandling. The film has a pretty decent supporting cast but it’s obviously Sacha Baron Cohen that drives the film. That being said the more films he makes like this and other projects he does the more he starts to remind me why I admire him. He’s a man of many comedic characters and also can be a great actor via supporting roles in serious films such as Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” from 2011. This film doesn’t prove to be quite as funny as “Borat” was, one of my personal favorites, but it still proves to be downright hilarious none-the-less.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. According to the technical specifications on IMDb this was shot digitally in 2K resolution using the Arri Alexa camera. It translates very nicely to Hi-Def with an astounding amount of detail in every shot. Speaking of which the cinematography here is actually quite impressive. DP (director of photography) Lawrence Sher has done an excellent job here and is no stranger to comedies as you’ll see if you check his IMDb listing credits for cinematographer. The black level here is perfectly solid. The color palette is downright vibrant throughout the film, much thanks to the colorful settings and characters, and the fleshtones are accurate. There’s very little sign of digital noise here in the Hi-Def presentation as it comes across very crisp. There’s absolutely nothing to complain about here visually in the presentation of the theatrical version of the film. That being said this earns a perfect “5 Star Rating” for overall video quality. One note here, the video quality of the material added in on the “Extended” (UNRATED) cut of the film does not look anywhere as impressive as the material from the theatrical cut. These additional scenes don’t appear to have received much post-production treatment as their color palette and fleshtones are way off at times and the quality tends to be a bit more compressed and holds pixilation in those scenes. However, the “extended” cut of the film is technically a bonus material here and I cannot rate the video quality based on its flaws. So, keep in mind that my rating here for video is for the theatrical cut.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. By far the real highlight here of this lossless 5.1 mix is the original music by Erran Baron Cohen (Sacha Baron Cohen’s brother) who had worked previously on the films “Borat” and “Brüno” as well as on Sacha’s earlier work. Erran Baron Cohen delivers some beautiful music here and we also get some really funny foreign language parodies of songs like Dr. Dre‘s “Next Episode“, R.E.M.‘s “Everybody Hurts“, Marvin Gaye‘s “Lets Get It On” and Dolly Parton‘s “9 to 5” — which all prove to fit the film perfectly. The music here gets a great amount of rear channel presence and has a really impressive amount of LFE (bass) as well. There’s not a huge amount of action here in terms of sound effects but what bit you do have all sound very good. The sound of ambient noise can also get some rear channel presence at times. The most important part of this film is by far the dialogue and I’m very happy to report that it’s delivered very distinctly through the center channel speaker and never once is overpowered (oppressed if you will) by the music or anything else. No need for any volume adjustments. Just sit back, relax, and prepare to laugh your ass off. This delivers one solid audio presentation that at times can be pretty impressive as I mentioned. Overall it earns itself a “4 Star Rating” for audio quality.
Bonus Materials on this release are ALL presented in Hi-Def (HD) video with Dolby Digital 5.1 @640kbps sound — unless otherwise noted below.
- “Extended” UNRATED version of the film is included which adds an additional 16 minutes roughly of footage with a 98 minute runtime. This incorporates a lot of deleted and extended scenes into the original theatrical (rated) version of the film. It’s presented in full 1080p HD with DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound just like the theatrical version. There are some times that the color palette may seem a bit off with this additional footage put alongside the content from the theatrical cut but it’s not too bothersome, just worth noting to videophiles.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (33:43 – HD) are downright hilarious. Some of these are actually included in the UNRATED version of the film mentioned above while some don’t even appear in that. There’s a nice short deleted scene here that has actor/comedian Eugene Mirman playing a waiter. Even if you’ve watched the unrated (“extended”) version of the film you’ll still want to check these out.
- Music Video – Best Love Song “Your Money is on the Dresser” (1:35 – HD) starts out at a music awards show where “Aladeen” is nominated for a total of 3 out of 4 awards for best love song music video. After he obviously wins his award you’ll be treated to the music video itself which is quite short but still pretty funny. It’s worth noting that the music and such here was actually done by Sacha Baron Cohen’s brother Erran Baron Cohen.
- “Larry King Interview” (2:49 – HD) gives you the full interview that is partially featured in the film. This is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @224kbps sound. It proves to be pretty damn funny and I’m surprised Larry King actually sat down this long to contribute to this. The man has a good sense of humor you can clearly tell.
- A DVD of the film in standard definition with Dolby Digital 5.1 @448kbps sound. No bonus materials are included on this disc, just “previews” (trailers).
- A Digital Copy of the theatrical version film is included via a URL and redemption code on the paper insert in the packaging. This is compatible with both iTunes and Windows Media devices as well as both Mac and PC.
- An UltraViolet streaming and downloadable digital copy of the theatrical version film is included via the same URL and redemption code on the paper insert in the packaging mentioned above. This allows you to put your copy of the film in the “cloud” and access it via your tablet, smartphone and/or computer.
Overall the bonus materials here aren’t quite as lengthy as I’d liked for them to have been and don’t include any insight into the making of the film but they do prove to be hilarious. In fact, the “Extended” UNRATED cut of the film is actually better than the theatrical cut in my honest opinion and merits a higher rating for movie itself and the deleted and extended scenes that aren’t included in it prove to be great as well. The physical addition of a DVD of the theatrical cut of the film and digital additions of Digital Copy and UltraViolet digital copy of the theatrical cut of the film are nice to see included and help the overall rating for bonus. Still, I’d loved to have seen some behind-the-scenes footage or got an audio commentary.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Please be patient with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.